Cuomo made one aide cry by ridiculing her haircut and made fun of a male staffer for being 'fat,' new report says

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been accused of sexual misconduct by seven women, including former staffers.
  • The New Yorker shares how Cuomo fostered a bullying work environment that kept women from speaking out.
  • Cuomo has a well-documented history of attacking his opponents.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An explosive new report from Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker claims that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo created a hostile and unforgiving work environment where he ridiculed staffers’ appearances.

Farrow spoke to Lindsey Boylan, one of the seven women who has accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct, who said the governor made “creepy” comments, paid her inappropriate and unwanted attention, and fostered a “toxic” work environment “especially for women.”

In one instance, Boylan said, he publicly ridiculed the director of the Governor’s offices, Stephanie Benton, for her haircut.

“I remember, Stephanie had a haircut that he kept making fun of her for all day in front of other people. And she was crying,” Boylan said.

In another, Boylan recalled Cuomo picked on a male staffer about being “fat.”

Benton denied the incident happened, and the male staffer declined to comment, according to the New Yorker.

But beyond Cuomo creating a “mean girls” work environment, Boylan says the governor was repeatedly inappropriate and sexually harassed her, at one point cornering her in his office and kissing her. 

In an essay she released on Medium in February, Boylan recounted how the governor made an improper comment about playing strip poker and joked that he’d like to mount her like a dog. Cuomo, she said, often found excuses to touch her. 

Cuomo denies any wrongdoing but told reporters earlier this month: “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional. And I truly and deeply apologize for it.”

In response to Boylan publically airing her accusations, Cuomo’s office, The New York Times first reported, released her personnel file to reporters and sent around an open letter accusing Boylan of making the misconduct allegations for political gains. 

It was a textbook move of retribution, say Cuomo’s aides. After former staffer Karen Hinton criticized Cuomo’s response to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2015, he attempted to have her fired from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, the Times reported. 

De Blasio — a longtime foe of Cuomo’s — later said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the governor’s “bullying is nothing new.”

The governor’s behavior cast in a new light

At a wedding of two members of his administration during his first term, a guest asked “who in this room has been yelled at or bullied by Andrew Cuomo,” the New York Times reported. 

Nearly the entire room of government workers raised their hands.

The roomful of staffers laughed at the joke at the time, but many are now reconsidering the governor’s actions.

Cuomo’s rule by fear likely helped foster an environment where half a dozen female staffers say they were on the receiving end of unwanted attention but too were scared to say anything. 

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former aide, told The Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Hinton, who has also accused the governor of inappropriate behavior when she worked with Cuomo during the Clinton administration, told The Times: “His primary tool for governing is to create fear.”

The New York attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into the accusations. There are growing calls for Cuomo to resign and one of his staunchest supporters, President Joe Biden, has said Cuomo should resign if the investigation finds him guilty.

Cuomo is also facing an unrelated investigation into his administration’s deliberate attempt to underreport COVID-related nursing home deaths. 

Insider has reached out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office for comment. 

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